Media Releases | 24th Jun, 2008

Drop in emissions a good start but no room for complacency

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

New figures suggesting that greenhouse gas emissions might be falling both nationally and in Victoria have been welcomed by the state’s peak environmental group. Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said he was encouraged by figures released today in the federal government’s National Greenhouse Accounts.

Mr Wakeham said the inventories suggested that Australia’s emissions fell by 5 million tonnes between 2005 and 2006 with most of this fall attributable to less land-clearing.

“This is a welcome result but there is no room for complacency as these figures can bounce around from year to year,’’ Mr Wakeham said.

“The 2006 figures suggest that Australia is in reach of achieving its Kyoto target for the first commitment period. But it should be remembered that Australia’s Kyoto target actually allowed us to increase greenhouse pollution substantially while most countries have reduced emissions’’.

Mr Wakeham said emissions from the energy and transport sectors were still out of control. Energy sector emissions nationally have grown by 40 per cent since 1990 while transport emissions have grown by 27 per cent since 1990. He said emissions from Australia’s energy sector, which is overly reliant on polluting coal, increased between 2005 and 2006.

“At the state level the data suggests Victoria’s emissions fell by nearly 3 million tonnes between 2005 and 2006, though part of the reason for this is that the federal government has revised the 2005 figures up,’’ he said. “They are now telling us that Victoria’s pollution in 2005 was nearly 1.5 million tonnes higher than it had previously been reported’’.

He said the main reason Victoria’s emissions appear to have fallen between 2005 and 2006 is because of reduced levels of land-clearing and increased re-forestation.

“Encouragingly Victorian transport emissions appear to have fallen by nearly 1 million tonnes between 2005 and 2006 which may have been a result of the shift to public transport spurred by rising petrol prices. But there is a danger that if the state government proceeds with its plans to build a new coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley, or a new freeway in Melbourne, emissions will again be on the rise.

“We need to take this learning and apply it at a major scale to achieve much more substantial cuts to greenhouse pollution in the next 5 to 10 years. Australia (and Victoria) should be looking to halve our emissions by 2020 so that we are playing our part in avoiding dangerous climate change’’.